Just like having a good camera rig for smooth shooting, you need a solid work desk and editing set up to have the quickest workflow and best way to monitor and deliver your projects.
I have spent many years working and saving up for the current desk set up I have which also meant a lot of trial and errors. From all the different monitors, speakers, hard drives, SSD, and even the desk itself, I learned to filter out anything that was not speeding up my turn around time for clients and anything that was affecting the quality of my work.
This could mean not having a proper monitor to grade or bad speakers that could not give you a true reading of what the sounds actually sound like.
I am excited to share with you in this post the best gear and tools that I use on a day to day basis for my editing, visual effects, and color grading work.
I made a video about this not too long ago which also covers how to deal with a room that doubles as your bedroom and work place. I have a few tips in there that I think will be useful to you.
I'm going to break down everything seen in the video as well as new additional purchases that have increased the speed and functionality in the way I work:
1 - LG CURVED ULTRA WIDE 34 INCH MONITOR
Let's start with the now biggest item on my desk, which I did not yet have at the time of filming the video above: The Curved Ultra Wide 34 inch Monitor with Usb type C connection.
This super wide monitor has completely changed the way I work for the better. I not only have a lot more realestate when working with cluttered timelines but it also sits at the perfect height for it to be eye level with me. This has helped my posture tremendously. I have a standing desk for that reason (which we will talk about in a bit) and this added element has helped me avoid being hunched over my screen or squinting my eyes when making cuts or rotoscoping.
As far as it being curved, at first I thought it was a marketing gimmick, but after using it I realized that it does wrap around your peripherals nicely and makes your experience that much more immersive. Its not hugely noticeable but it is a nice feature to have and it looks really cool.
The resolution is great too coming in at 3840 x 1600 which turns out to be a 21:9 aspect ratio.
pleasant surprise that I could watch movies that previously had those nasty letter boxes in true full screen. The feeling is indescribable when you see a movie that completely fills your entire monitor.Because of that, I had the
I honestly love this and it was well worth the money. I spent some time calibrating the colors on it and it does a decent job at being color accurate however when I color grade my work I still rely on my 2017 MacBook Pro's screen for any final tweaks and adjustments.
Another really nice touch that most people might not care about too much is that the back side of the monitor is white. This is important for me because I have a window directly behind my monitor and if the sun is hitting the back side of the monitor for nice periods of time, its nice to know that most of that light and heat is bouncing off due to the color.
This thing comes stacked with ports. Aside from the Usb type C connection which allows 4K video, data transfer, and charging for your laptop, it also has Usb 3.0 ports, HDMI inputs and a headphone jack among others.
I really think this is one of the best solutions for monitors for editors and it has made my workflow that much more enjoyable.
UnboxTherapy really likes this monitor which speaks for itself on the beauty of it:
You can buy the LG Ultra Wide Curved Monitor here:
2 - YAMAHA HS5 STUDIO MONITOR SPEAKERS
The Yamaha HS5 studio Monitors are by far some of the best and cleanest sounding speakers I have heard.
I use them for sound design, music producing, mixing, mastering, and the occasional jam session.
These speakers sound great and are loud! I can really feel the vibration from the bass when I'm listening to songs that make my left stroke go viral.
Oh and did I mention that they look great? Seriously, these are the best looking speakers I could find on amazon. They have a minimal aesthetic to them and they fit well with the rest of my white themed desk set up.
If you are the type to like to read or even understand sound specs then here are a few highlights:
2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor with 5" cone woofer and 1" dome tweeter
54Hz - 30kHz frequency response
45W LF plus 25W HF bi-amp system for high-performance 70W power amplification
ROOM CONTROL and HIGH TRIM response controls XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals
I could get into how they have Noise reduction technology and how they were designed to have low resonance in order to maintain a high fidelity in sound but I will just sum it up by saying this:
I am in love with the look and sound of these speakers. If you are considering upgrading or getting a nice pair of speakers that can last you a life time then these are 100% worth the cost.
As a side note, keep in mind that you will need a Usb interface to power these speakers. I have linked to a bundle that has the XLR cables that you need for these but I suggest adding a Usb interface as well if you don't already have one.
BoKnowsTech made a nice video showing why these speakers are so great:
You can buy the Yamaha HS5 Monitor Speakers here:
3 - LACIE BOLT 3 2TB SSD
As far as storage I use many hard drives from various manufactures but my main one is this 2 TB SSD from LACIE with Usb type C connection.
It is ludicrously expensive but for a good reason, from what I saw at the time of purchasing it, it is the only SSD that can be just as fast or faster than the incredible ssd built in my 2017 MacBook.
This is very important when it comes to editing off of an external drive. If you don't want to experience lags while editing or slow render times then it is wise to invest in a very good SSD that can keep up with the speeds necessary without slowing down your work.
This thing has a ludicrous 40Gb/s transfer rate. Wait, hold up. Let me repeat that: 40Gb/s transfer rate.
Ok I rest my case.
If you want a crazy fast SSD that can not just keep up with you but be faster than light
(Slight exaggeration) then save up, cry a little, suck it up, and then buy this marvelous piece of human achievement.
JQ over at TeQreation made a really solid video review video of the Lacie Bolt3:
You can buy the Lacie Bolt 3 2TB here:
4 - RODE PROCASTER MIC + SWIVEL ARM
My favorite microphone for voice overs and what I use for my tutorials or (future) live streams and podcast is the Rode ProCaster mic. I bought it with the Rode Swivel arm which has a desk clamp attachment and it sits to the side of my desk. This way its not in the way and I can swing it around in front of me whenever I need it.
I love everything about this mic and it really can capture the human voice in its all its frequencies beautifully. I have a deep voice and I really wanted a microphone that could really enrich and sweeten the low end when speaking into it.
The build quality is amazing, it feels heavy and made like it could take a bullet (I don't think it can, don't try it).
The pick up pattern (cardioid polar) for this mic is pretty narrow and you want to be fairly close to it to get that nice radio voice sound but that is what this kind of mic is made for.
The mic has an internal pop filter but I still recommend buying one that you can add on top to avoid any puffs or hard 'P's.
It also comes with its own shock mount (Rode PSM1) which is excellent at taking away any rattles or handling you might want to do when adjusting the mic to you while recording.
You can take a listen at how this mic sounds with very little adjutants in this Photoshop tutorial I made
You can buy the Rode ProCaster and Swivel Arm here:
5 - PALETTE GEAR
Another key component to my set up is this modular system of buttons, knobs, and sliders from Pallette gear.
I already made an overview video on this so I wont go too much into this but just imagine mapping out shortcuts, controls, and functions to these tactile controls.
You can scrub through your edit with a slider. You can add effects with a button and this is just a few things that you can do since its fully customizable for all your editing needs.
You can also use this with a ton of other programs including After Effects and Photoshop which has made my life so much easier and a lot more fun.
The arcade style buttons are so satisfying to press and sliders and knobs feel really smooth and solid and also make you feel like a DJ while editing.
You can even customize the lights that outline each controller with any color you want. You can also rearrange where each controller is positioned since every piece is completely modular.
If you use shortcuts (as you should) to speed up your workflow then this can take it a step further and optimize things up while keeping it fun.
You can buy the Palette Gear here:
6 - 99 NEO HEADPHONES
Any desk set up also needs its own good pair of headphones, whether it is to monitor and test sounds out under a different kind of perspective or for when you need to keep quiet when working late at night. A good pair of headphones is a must.
I use these headphones for a lot of different purposes and the 99 Neo headphones deliver a great experience no matter what you are using them for.
These are not neutral and balanced headphone but instead have a nice unique sound to them that slightly highlights the bass while still managing to give you a truthful read of what you are listening to.
I love isolating myself from the world with these and focus in on my sound design while working or even using these as my day to day music listening headphones.
The sound cancellation is great and they are the most comfortable over the ear headphones I have ever tried. Comfort is very important to me since I can sometimes edit with them on for hours.
The strap automatically adjusts to your head when you wear them, making any other headphone where you need to adjust the top strap feel awkward and old fashioned.
They also look great and they have a cool retro look while still feeling very modern in design.
A great plus for the durability of these headphones is that the kevlar cables are detachable and can be replaced in case anything were to happen to them. Oh did you notice that I said "kevlar cables"? Yeah they are made out of Kevlar so I'm pretty sure it would take a lot of effort to try to damage these cables.
I honestly really recommend this pair of headphones and it seems to me like the Meze company that made them really cares about the product.
You can buy the 99 Neo Headphones here:
7 - LIVE STREAM CAMERA RIG
Something that I'm trying to do a lot more of now is live stream and to do that I knew I needed an efficient and semi permanent solution that would allow me to just turn a camera on and start streaming with ease.
There's a few parts to this rig and after a bit of research these are the components to my live stream set up that have worked best for me.
I use a Manfrotto Super Clam and a Manfrotto Magic Arm with camera plate.
This arm has two articulating sections and is super sturdy and can hold a decent amount of weight so I could even mount my A7s on it if I wanted to.
To that I have attached my Sony RX100 IV.
This use to be my vlog camera but after getting the iPhone X I realized I was using it less and less so I decided to repurpose it for my live stream camera which sits right above my Monitor.
It's the perfect fit for this set up since it has a small footprint and almost takes up as little space as a webcam while still delivering great quality, nice depth of field and a zoom range of 24-70mm.
The way I connected my RX100 to my MacBook is with a Blackmagic Ultra Studio Mini Recorder.
On the software end I use a program called OBS which is free and open source and gives you a ton of options, enough to get you started at least.
8 - PHILIP HUES LAMP
I was on the fence about spending a couple of hundred dollars on fancy light bulbs and really couldn't justify this expense to myself for a bit but after buying the Home Kit and trying them I can firmly say that it was a great investment that keeps my workspace from becoming monotonous as well as enhancing and keeping me on track with my sleep, wake, work schedule.
You can do so much now with these smart bulbs and it really does improve your life. Granted it's not going to completely change your life but I am of the idea that any bit of improvement technology can offer into my life, I will take.
You can create scenes and make the bulbs different colors which is great for when you are trying to keep yourself energized with some bright blue or white colors or when you are approaching the end of your day and want some deep orange and yellow colors to fill your room.
You can also set the lights to turn on at a specific time which has helped me actually get out of bed on time and be customized to fit any other color or brightness timing preferences you may have.
There are more and more apps constantly in development for these bulbs but some of my favorite ones have allowed me to recreate rain and thunder environments with flashes that match up with the sound and color my room with specific scenes from landscapes.
Since we are talking about my desk, I'll tell you what I've put the Philips Hues bulb into.
I found a really great looking lamp on amazon called Tomons which fits right into the style of my desk and room.
It reminds me a bit of the Pixar logo lamp which in a weird way makes me feel more creative.
Aside from the nice minimal design the main body of the lamp is made of real wood which adds a nice touch of character to the desk.
You can buy the Philips Hues Home Kit here:
You can buy the Tomons Lamp here:
9 - HYPERDRIVE USB C HUB
This might not apply to a lot of readers so I'll keep it short. If you have a 2017 or 2018 MacBook Pro you need the Hyperdrive Usb C hub in your life.
If you own the new iteration of MacBook from Apple then you are most likely dealing with that dongle struggle everyday. I'm personally glad Apple went with the bold decision of only putting USB type C ports since they are a future proof and amazing new way of connecting and powering things. However, since we are still living in the present and a lot of tech manufactures need to still convert to this new system we are dealing with the older usb A connection. Not to mention the missing is the SD card slot.
With the Hyperdrive you get all of those ports back and more AND without losing the two Usb C ports the hub takes up when plugging it into the side of your laptop.
The Hyperdrive also features a 4K HDMI and a micro SD slot that is right above the SD card reader slot.
It also has a space gray finish option which matches my laptop nicely and really does feel like a solid extension of the computer giving you what you were missing back and more.
9to5Mac made a great detailed review of this hub:
You can buy the Hyperdrive Usb C Hub here:
10 - 2017 MacBook Pro 15"
Last but definitely not least, let’s talk about the piece of this set up that powers it all.
This is the 2017 MacBook Pro fully specced out.
It has really surpassed all my expectations especially since I made the jump from a 2012 MacBook. I know a lot of people are not a fan of the dongle life and the fact that there are only 4 usb type c connections but at least you still have the headphone jack. Without going too much into that and without starting a civil war in the comments, I will say this. I like it. I like how fast everything is, how sleek the ports and cables are and most important of all, the fact that it is future proof. With the hub mentioned in the previous section all of these last concerns are solved.
The touch bar felt like a bit of a marketing and price bump gimmick but I have grown to really like the fact that its there. I can't say I use it all the time but its a nice touch (get it?). It's touch screen.
The speeds of this thing are really impressive and I love the fact that I can take this with me and have all of my work no matter how heavy it is, in terms of timelines or vfx, wherever I go.
When it comes to packing in a ton of power into a beautiful, sleek, and future looking design no other laptop on the market even comes close to the 2017
I mean this thing is crazy thin and super lightweight.
The build quality never disappoints and is again not matched by any competitor.
The screen is not only high res to the point that it melts your eyes but it's also insanely color accurate which is great for color grading and photo retouching.
With all of that being said, it is very very very expensive but if you are a fan of the Apple
ecosystem and have taken a liking, as I have, to the functionality and ease of use of Mac's OS then this amazing hardware is a must when it comes to having a beautiful yet powerful laptop.
You can buy the 2017 MacBook Pro here:
Do you agree with the gear on this list? Let me know if you have any additional must haves you would like or own for your perfect desk set up. Feel free to share your thoughts on them in the comments below!
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